Spontaneous combustion is a type of combustion which occurs without an external ignition source. It's also fairly uncommon. But this summer, in Little Rock, Arkansas, an insurance claims adjuster concluded that the fire that caused $20,000 worth of damage to the Duncan's home was a classic case. Brian Duncan said a flowerpot on the porch was the culprit. You can read the full article here.
I stumbled across this essay quite by accident. I was laughing at the image to the right (seriously? snow globes? they must have watched that short by Pixar where the itty bitty plastic snowman tries to blow up his globe to reach the hot mermaid in the snow globe next to his and they thought it was reality TV). Under that image was a link to the following essay, Terrorism, Tweezers, and Terminal Madness: An Essay On Security. It's not a short read, but it is definitely worth reading if you want a pilot's perspective on what airline security has become since September 11, 2001. Perhaps even more interesting is the list of air crimes at the end of the essay, sorted by date, starting in 1970.
First up, apologies if this post contains more typos than usual, I'm sending it from my new ultra-small netbook and I'm still getting used to its itty-bitty keyboard. Which brings me nicely to my first story. That according to a survey for satellite channel SKY-HD, British consumers waste £52 billion a year on hi-tech features they don't use. For example, half of the people polled did not know their high definition television also required a hi-def signal source such as a blu-ray player or HD satellite receiver – like the ones sold by SKY-HD perhaps (Telegraph).
And it's not just the the British, military officials in Russia recently discovered 100 front-line battletanks parked and forgotten by the side of the road near Yekaterinburg in the Urals. Locals say the tanks, which were unguarded and unlocked, have been there for several months and lack only ammunition and the all important starter keys (Reuters).
Someone who might have had a use for those tanks were guests at a wedding in New Delhi in India recently. The Hindu ceremony was somewhat marred when an elephant hired for the event went on a rampage after becoming aroused by the smell of a nearby female in heat. The amorous pachyderm then proceeded to crush 20 limousines, smash through a nearby mall and mount a truck before it could be tranquilised (Orange).
Also losing it this week was the man on the RyanAir flight who found he had won 10,000 euros on a scratchcard he bought on the budget flight from Poland to the UK. Furious that the airline had not seen fit to equip all their planes with the requisite amount of cash onboard, hence he could not be given his prize there and then as he demanded, the unnamed passenger ate the winning card rather than wait to claim it at his destination (BBC News).
Given that Najibullah Zazi seems to have been planning terrorist assaults on the NYC subway system, is it possible he got his inspiration from a surname-related French New Wave film Zazie dans le métro?
In what looks likely to go down as the slowest naval engagement of all time, rival punting companies in the historic English town of Cambridge are apparently engaging in a clandestine war for the city's annual passenger river-trade, worth an estimated £2.5m ($4m). The latest move in what the locals dub "the punt wars" has seen two of the flat, pole-propelled craft belonging to one local operator sawn through from end to end. Until now, some punt companies have stuck to using stink bombs or liquid soap to incapacitate their rivals' craft, or have severed mooring chains so that the boats must be found and recovered before they can start work, but this latest escalation of the conflict, which caused £10k of actual damage, is worrying many people. Some are now calling for a limit on the number of punts allowed to work on the river (Guardian).
Meanwhile, in Milan in Italy, the loan-collateral held in the vault at Credito Emiliano is not only protected by inches of steel and high-tech alarms systems, it's also maintained at the perfect temperature and humidity, and turned and cleaned by automated systems to ensure that it keeps its value. That's because Credito Emiliano is offering the local cheese-makers loans of up to 60% of the value of any parmesan cheese deposited with them. With each parmesan wheel worth 300 euros ($400), and local producers typically putting up 2000 wheels in a year in collateral, this has meant the bank has lent nearly 420 thousand euros ($600k) to each customer against the cheese in their vault. Which is gouda news for the local cheese industry (AP).
If there is one food that could be intimately linked with the German city of Berlin, it's the currywurst. A twisted cousin to the American chilli-dog, from a parallel universe so evil even the women have goatees, the Berlin currywurst is a sliced pork sausage served with plenty of powdered curry and cayenne and covered in a spicy, curry sauce and sold by street vendors to the passing trade. So popular is this snack in Berlin that the city has just opened the Currywurst Museum to show off the dish's history to tourists and locals alike. Partly this is to support Berlin's claims to be the birthplace of the currywurst, but it is also hoped the museum will promote the snack in the face of increasing competition from more conventional fast food. As one might expect from a museum dedicated to this singular foodstuff, the cafeteria includes an authentic currywurst stand (Times).
From the BBC children's science show "Bang Goes The Theory...", engineer Jem Stansfield builds himself a giant vortex cannon, and tries to knock down buildings made of straw, wood and bricks...
Impressive, though I'm sure the "Big Bad Wolf" would not have had much of a problem if the third little pig had likewise left out the mortar. Mind you, one of these is just what I need to keep the neighborhood cats out of my garden!